Social anxiety is a real issue. Depending on the situation and person, it can be coped with in a myriad of ways. If social anxiety is one of your struggles, I encourage you to seek solid counsel and choose healthy options.
The situation I’m about the present is a small percentage of social anxiety, so please do not apply it to all situations. But I’ve seen it often enough recently that I want to put it out there for consideration. It might help you; it might help you help someone. If it doesn’t apply to situations you’re close to, set it aside.
Social anxiety can be chronic. It can last many years and is consistently tied to specific situations and conditions. But sometimes, it’s more acute. Or the degree of anxiety intensifies because of a life-changing event or decision. In the latter case, cautiously but honestly look at the situation. Ask trusted friends who have known you long enough to keep the before and after events and decisions in context.
Sometimes social anxiety is exacerbated by shame and guilt and fears of being around others. The anxiety isn’t as much about social situations in general as it is about dealing with the fallout of a decision. One of the tests of this is to ask if you’re more comfortable with some groups than others and if the comfort with people changed around the time you made a big decision. If you begin to avoid certain people or types of people that you have become increasingly uncomfortable with because of your decisions, your anxiety might be less general and more acute and situational.
Why is this important? First, if you assume your social anxiety is more generalized than it is, you will avoid some situations that do not need to be avoided. You might have better coping strategies than you think. Second, you might avoid dealing with some specifically-rooted issues that could have lasting impact on your relationships and your well-being.
When you’re honest with the situation and carefully and accurately identify anxiety, guilt, regret, or fear, you know what you’re dealing with and can move forward with the best tools.
You are not trapped. Your situation is not hopeless. You can cope, and you can grow.